V is for Victory (part 2)

Random Taji street corner.

Random camp corner.

The wallpaper on my computer has a shot I took during a road patrol, along the bottom is my name with the title “propagandist” underneath in lieu of “public affairs.”

It’s there as a conversation piece more than anything. “Propa-what?” most soldiers say. Well, I guess it’s a one-sided conversation piece since not many know what the heck it means.

Today I sat at my computer with another bout of writer’s block. In the chute are two stories: one about our unit’s part in the upcoming Abu Ghraib relocation, and one a forced story about a field service company down south on Seitz, one of the camps down south on the Victory Base Complex.

The Abu Ghraib piece was lauded by several layers of leadership as a huge story. “Time magazine material” said one light colonel. Sweet! A chance at some “news” news. I was ready.

So what’s going on? Well, for us, at least, we’re moving concrete barriers. That’s it, escorting concrete pillars from the prison to a few miles down the road into the VBC. Time magazine? Well, I dunno.

I spent an hour or two trying to spin it – defending freedom, staying the course, bettering the Iraqi people…nothin’. I might have to do some more interviews, this time with officers. The enlisted guys just spit it real. Concrete for now. That’s it.

The other story is about a field service company, a unit that does the laundry and sewing for units while deployed – at least the areas that aren’t contracted out by KBR. We had already done the unit-profile story and I was trying to cover something else.

“So what’s going on first sergeant?” I asked their top while I was down in Seitz.

“Nothing. Business as usual,” he said.

“Well, I heard that you guys are providing field showers to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, what’s going on with that?”

“Field showers? Nope, not doing field showers.”

“Oh, okay. Anything going on with your sewing shops…or laundry?”

“No, we don’t do much laundry anymore, that’s all KBR. The alteration shop is few and far between.”

“Okay. So is there a job in your company or a soldier you want profiled? We can write about that.”

“Hrmm. How about the admin guys? You can do a story on them. They’re doing all of our awards now.”

“Alright. Sounds, uh, good.” Admin, eh? Sure, why not? I’d see where the interviews went.

Two specialists process paperwork. They work out at the gym, miss home, and don’t like Iraq just like the other 130,000 troops in theater. Hrmmm. Again, I spent an hour or two trying to spin it – spreading democracy, fighting the good fight, keeping the faith…nothin’.

So, I started writing this post until something sparked.

Abu Ghraib? Let’s see…Moving Abu to the VBC will mean one less base to run. That means less places to run water and gas to. So…that means reducing a convoy, I’d say…and that means less soldiers on the road. Bong! Drawing down forces! Saving soldiers’ lives! Letting Iraqis take charge! Spreading happiness and democracy to the masses! Now I’d just need someone to say all that.

The field service company? Hrmm…admin guys…going to the gym…maintaining readiness…naw. Who knows what a FSC does? Not many. So, who knows who takes care of FSC soldiers? Probably fewer still. This one would be a bit of a stretch, but I’ll do a little “unsung heroes of the unsung heroes” bit. I don’t know if the other soldiers of the FSC see these guys as heroes, but who reads this stuff other than the parents of the soldiers anyway?

That’s two for the propagandist.


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

4 responses to “V is for Victory (part 2)”

  1. BWJones says :

    OK, how about doing a story about hosting a photographer from the states (civilian), doing some photojournalism for a newspaper back home? You could convince the Army to let me hitch a transport out (love that seat webbing) and I could bring out goodies galore for you and the troops, take some photos for the papers back home showing how mundane, yet disturbingly terrifying your lives are.

    Could be fun eh?

  2. Salmons says :

    Hell yeah, I’d be game. My command is a little tepid on outsiders, though 😦

    I am a big fan of having people come in and see how things are. My boy in Michigan is a documentary film maker and we talked about getting him out here. Problem is, they don’t let people in too much nowadays 😦

    Sorry BW!

  3. BWJones says :

    Well, if you ever can swing it, your dude in Michigan can shoot motion and I’ll shoot still. You gotta have both for a documentary, right?

  4. finch says :

    so we’re sittin’ in the office today with the tv blaring something about Bush’s latest and greatest “cause” ie: gay marraige and his desire to make a constitutional amendment and what not…and my newest/youngest Soldier turns and says to me inquisitively – Sgt. i just don’t get it, i mean, isn’t that going blatently against the whole basis of seperation of church and state? he’s [bush is] doing things that are clearly impeachable acts and no one is doing anything about it…so i smiled…nodded…and gave him the rest of the day off…

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